Is Social Media becoming a turn-off? (Guest post by Sam Schuurman)

January 19th, 2010

When we relaunched iJump in November 2009, we indicated iJump would be more of a resource for the community of social media practitioners.

Today’s guest post is by Sam Schuurman, a masters student at Otago University who also advises clients on social engagement and co-creation. Check out Sam’s site, iThnk.

In 2009 there’s no doubt that social media rocketed into the mainstream, but towards the end of 2009 there were various signals pointing to the fact that social media had now become a massive turn-off!

Firstly, Pete Cashmore wrote an alarming post about the fact that there are 15,740 social media experts on Twitter – yuck.

Around the same time last week Simon Young wrote a post called 7 Predictions for 2010. Prediction No.5 was…”Social media will stop being a newsworthy marketing ploy in its own right, as more businesses get on board and start connecting to their audiences. Businesses will need to find something intrinsically interesting about themselves, rather than just the fact that they’re on Twitter…”.

Then on new years eve Alex Williams from RWW wrote a post that somewhat encapsulated just how much of a turn off social media is becoming.

Almost as to signify the death of social media as a buzz-word his post titled Let’s Move Away From Social Media and Get Down to Business described how “social media” has become ripe pickings for satirical videos (like this one), and a more holistic approach is needed.

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What’s causing social media’s loss of sex appeal?

Like many of those late night infomercials it was always too good to be true…”with only 20mins a day using our free tools you too will be able to call yourself a social media expert – and best of all… no accreditation necessary”.

It seems that for the moment, with no measure of credibility it’s very much a case of one bad apple makes the whole barrel go rotten. Unfortunately, with 15740 self proclaimed social media experts there’s bound to be more than one or two peddling social media snake oil.

Adding to this is also the fact the every Tom Dick and Harry has now leaped head first into social media…nothing kills sex appeal like mainstream popularity.

While social media may have lost it’s sexy sheen and wow factor, I don’t believe that snake oil salesmen or mainstream popularity will ever truly kill off social media’s inner Fonzie, as there are enough great people doing some truly amazing things with social media to act as a counter balance.

No one wants to be a social-media loserSocialMedia

Losers get no action! Now that every man and his dog has a Twitter account and a Facebook page how is anyone going to get ahead using social media?

Well what made social media so darn interesting for businesses in the first place? Was it the cool funky social tools or was it the fact that some really switched on companies where breaking the mould and actually interacting with people in an engaging way? Me thinks the later.

So it is likely that it will be the same way people have always broken through the clutter, by being outstanding. By finding their own purple cow. For truly great businesses social media may have been a new opportunity but it wasn’t a revolution. The companies who grabbed our hearts and minds before social media came along are the same ones who are using social media to further their focus on customers and who continue to delight us with their innovations. – Just think about what Air NZ have done with the airpointsfairy.

It may be only a matter of time before it’s all just considered marketing again – and just as there always has been, there will be good, bad and downright ugly marketing.

Do you agree? Are you still turned on by social media?

Social media will stop being a newsworthy marketing ploy in its own right, as more businesses get on board and start connecting to their audiences. Businesses will need to find something intrinsically interesting about themselves, rather than just the fact that they’re on Twitter (and that their product is great, of course).

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The Myth of Control

October 21st, 2009

223776150_5f685300b4Got this great email from Bronwyn Hargraves, who’s a marketing officer at Aoraki Polytechnic, as well as an avid fan of iJump (thanks, Bronwyn!). There’s a great insight in here:

“We were having a discussion in marketing class yesterday about promotion, control and communication…. and it got me thinking!

Companies often don’t jump in to social media tools because they are worried about control. They prefer traditional advertising media – tv, billboards etc because they are seen as the safe controllable option.

Yes, you have control of the message that goes out to your customers, or partners but how much control do you have over how that message is received? Was it received?

With mediums like social media, sure there is no control over what messages you may receive back, but this feedback gives you the opportunity to check if your message was interpreted as you intended, and if it wasn’t, you now have an opportunity to respond back. This will ensure an area of shared meaning is established, and ultimately gives you more control over your advertising.”

Thanks again Bronwyn, for your ideas as well as your avid fan-ship of our updates! :)

Is Bronwyn right? Does letting go actually give you more control? We think so, but we’d love to hear your experiences in this area.

(Photo courtesy of renatotarga. Thanks!)

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Earth Hour’s social media success – JJProjects – iJumpTV 64

August 16th, 2009
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John Johnston (JJProjects) led the social media campaign for the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour earlier this year. Find out the connection between success and letting go of your message!

Key learnings:

  • 21st century marketing – whether it’s for a non-profit cause or for a business – is about you being of service to your audience. In the case of Earth Hour, JJ’s team were of service to people around the world who cared about the environment, and gave them resources to rally others to the cause.
  • The way to scale your social media project is to share control with your audience. Try to control everything, and you’ll never be able to scale.
  • There may be malicious or negative people who will try to sabotage, but this is largely self-correcting as your community stands up for you.

There’s a theme here of cooperating with your audience. It’s emerging in all sorts of aspects of business, as I discovered at the Auckland Tweetup on Friday night. Justin Flitter told me that Zendesk finds its staff among its greatest fans on the community forums. Our intern Courtney, who’s also a big fan of Giapo Icecream, found herself behind the counter serving a customer. An apt analogy for what’s happening now.

Will you let your customers behind the counter? When does this not work? Love to hear your thoughts, as always.

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Social Media and Live Theatre – The EDGE – iJumpTV 63

August 9th, 2009
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Josie Campbell, Communications Manager at The EDGE Performing Arts Venue, tells us how she uses social media to build buzz and hold conversations with her customers.

Follow Josie on Twitter. And let us know what you think? How do you use social media for more than just one-way announcements?

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What makes a good community manager?

May 8th, 2009

Community manager at work One point from the Q&A roundup from Marketing Now bears deeper exploration: Online communities require investment in people.

Technology is necessary, and beneficial. But it’s only the beginning.

Nothing will happen if you set up an online community platform and expect a community to form and manage itself.

In 2008 the Tribalization of Business survey found that this was the case – businesses were spending up to a million dollars on community platforms that were then becoming ghost towns.

It’s not because the concept isn’t valid; it’s that the job has been half done.

Communities, movements, any collection of people for a purpose, happens because someone makes an effort.

So what skills are required? In our years of observing and participating in this space, we believe a good community manager is like a:

  • Magazine editor , who pulls together information from various sources and makes it easy-to-consume.
  • Orchestra conductor , who brings the best out of a group of diverse people.
  • Counsellor , who listens to people and helps them solve their own problems.
  • Improv actor , who uses the situation at hand to create a completely new experience with his audience.
  • Parent , making sure that no child is left behind, and that everyone treats each other well.
  • Exploration leader, taking the community down new and exciting paths.
  • Publican , whose job is to provide a convivial environment for conversation and entertainment, with the minimum of distraction.

Any I’ve missed?

(Thanks to Chris for publishing his photos under a Creative Commons licence!)

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Personal branding vs. business branding – where’s your line?

April 21st, 2009

The issue of personal vs. business identity online keeps coming up.

It was a recurring question at the Marketing Now conference last week.

Jeremiah Owyang’s grappling with how much to reveal . Courtney is amazed at how personal business has become .

And every time we talk about Twitter , we get two responses. Some people love the real, human interaction; others can’t bear hearing what others have had for breakfast. It’s extremely polarising.

At iJump, we believe (or at least I personally believe!) the real brand is made up of the people who represent it, far more than the brand identity as written down by experts. So businesses with a healthy culture shouldn’t fear their employees’ personal brands busting through the screen. It’s a positive thing.

Of course this solves nothing, it just brings up more questions – which we hope to answer in due time! Questions like:

  • How much should you mix personal and business identities online? (eg. is your Facebook profile for business, or friends and family, or all of the above?)
  • If businesses really let their staff build their personal brands, don’t they risk losing customers when the staff move on? (A problem faced by sports teams, TV shows and sales departments especially)
  • How much personal information is too much information on Twitter? (Your stories are most welcome!)

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David Meerman Scott and Chris Brogan in New Zealand, day one

April 18th, 2009

Marketing Now Conference
Some connection troubles prevented me from posting this update until today. Enjoy! This is from Wednesday 15 April.

What are the new rules of marketing and PR? What does lead generation look like in a social media world?

Those were some of the questions covered today with two of the world’s top social media teachers, speakers and doers.

David Meerman Scott’s New Rules

David Meerman Scott kicked off the day with the new rules of marketing and PR. One of those rules is to give things away, and David backs his theory up with solid practice: download his free ebook here .

After a morning break he got onto his latest book, World Wide Rave , a study of why things ‘go viral’.

Towards the end of his session, David shared his own experience of what hasn’t worked – as well as what has – in promoting World Wide Rave. Not an easy thing for any marketer to do, but a really heartening thing for any other marketer to see – that any experimentation will have its share of mistakes.

That’s why you need to think like a venture capitalist or film producer. It’s not about the success of a single campaign, it’s about launching a portfolio of efforts, and measuring the success of each one.

Chris Brogan’s Lead Gen 2.0

Chris Brogan took the stage in the afternoon, and beguiled us all with stories about people he knew, experiences he’d had and … us! I wondered why he’d been taking photos all morning instead of listening to David. He’d been gathering material for his presentation-on-the-fly, a brilliant way of keeping our attention and helping us see things differently, by seeing ourselves!

I’m not going to try and summarise everything David and Chris said – that’s what live tweets are for . But I will note what stood out to me:

  • The more you release control, the more you stand to gain. For example, the old way to generate leads is to give something in exchange for an email address. But that limits the number of people who will make that effort, and it reduces your ability to spread your message. Give it away, don’t just half-heartedly give it away.
  • You are as valuable as your content. That’s a direct quote from David, and it was a chilling reminder for me to get back into blogging! Particularly since I was nodding in recognition of many things they were saying, and yet realising, I haven’t expressed this information! So I apologise, iJump readers. It’ll never happen again!
  • Marketers love rules. At iJump one of our sayings is, there are no rules, only relationships. I strongly believe this but I marvel at the outstanding success of David’s book (which we all got a free copy of, by the way!). It shows me that marketers hunger for boundaries, for the rules of the game, and it means there’s a lot of opportunity (and responsibility) for those who seek to delineate this new world. David has done an admirable job, giving clear guidelines while avoiding strict black-and-white rules.
  • Marketers are impatient. And rightly so. It’s your hunger for action that has got you where you are. The culture of social media, on the other hand, is discovered over time, like finding your way around a new neighbourhood. You could get a Lonely Planet guide, or you could take a gift to your new neighbours and get to know them up close.
  • Marketers find Twitter hard to understand. This isn’t from Chris or David, it’s from my continued observations. As a rule (remember, though, there are none!) people who communicate well in person struggle with twitter, while more introverted people like me take to the medium naturally. Of course, just as I have learnt to turn my personality up for face-to-face meetings (and I love presenting to a crowd), an extrovert can learn to navigate the body-language-free world of Twitter (and social media) with a willingness to explore, and some friends to help them.

That’s all from day one. More soon!

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Why Twitter is great for branding

March 3rd, 2009

Consumers make their own brands Matt at Kurb thinks Twitter’s not good for branding, because it only allows 140 characters. I disagree.

Branding has always been about a simple, big idea. Just Do It. I’m Loving It. etc.

What’s changing now is that audiences are getting more involved, expressing their own perceptions of brands.

In one way, it’s nothing new. My version of Nike has always been idiosyncratic and different to your perception.

But now we have the tools to mash up our favourite (or least favourite) brands and express our own perception.

If you have a brand, you’d be smart to get into that conversation with others about your brand. You may find hidden facets, things people think about you that you never thought of.

Because it’s a conversation, Twitter gives you the opportunity to practice your brand, and co-create it with your customers and prospects.

Where’s the money? There’s not a straight-line path between exploring your brand on Twitter, and money in the bank. But the line is there. It’s called strategy, and it’s preparing you for next month, next year, two years from now.

And, as my recent post shows , brands don’t need to be commercial. Simple, big ideas can like Twestival and Blackout can cause social change, whether it’s digging wells or changing laws.

And it all comes down to the new world of branding that’s being created on Twitter and other conversation platforms. Are you there? Are you learning?

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Not subscribed to iJumpTV? Here’s what you’ve been missing

February 10th, 2009

If you haven’t subscribed to iJumpTV , you’ve been missing out on some exciting stuff, as well as thought-provoking book reviews.

I would say that, wouldn’t I! But seriously, while many social media blogs talk a lot about the tools, these interviews and book reviews look at the larger issues of how to manage a large organisation through the process of change .

The most recent book review is the contrarian Against the Machine , which I disagreed with (you might have guessed I would).

And just fresh off the press today, an interview with Luigi Cappel about the Location Innovation Awards , designed to get people thinking up clever ways to use mobile for marketing and business.

Don’t miss out on this valuable resource, delivered right to your computer and viewable on your iPhone, iPod, or other portable video viewer. Subscribe today .

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How to promote an event through social media

February 9th, 2009

As we’re gearing up to promote this Thursday’s Twestival and the Marketing Now Conference in April, I’ve been thinking about how best to get the word out about an upcoming event.

Here’s what I’m learning:

Add intimacy to reach and frequency.

Traditional media rely on reach (how many people hear your message) and frequency (how often they hear it). This gets a little annoying (like those TV ads you like the first 5 times, and hate thereafter).

Adding intimacy is something you could even do on traditional media, but few people do. It’s a sense of letting your audience in behind the scenes, so they know and are a part of the event, before it happens.

It could be as simple as me twittering: "Going to the printer’s to pick up the nametags for Thursday’s Twestival. I hope we don’t run out; we printed 100!"

This communicates a subtle reminder of the event, while also communicating other information (there will be nice printed nametags, there will be about 100 people – we hope!). It also lets the audience know what’s happening behind the scenes, and the live, real-time nature of Twitter/Social media somehow helps this.

Get your audience involved

If you’re running the event, maybe you can crowdsource suggestions on different aspects of the event.


  • Better ideas
  • A greater sense of involvement from those who have contributed ideas – and therefore greater likeliness that they’ll attend and encourage others to come.

Sometimes event organisers do this the old-fashioned way, through a competition. But instead of inviting the feedback of potential attendees, they just bribe their way through with a prize.

Sure there’s value in prizes and incentives, but sometimes as an event organiser you can offer great value, without paying a cent. Being heard is increasingly valuable in a busy world where the biggest dollars usually have the loudest voice.

Variations on a theme

Twitter promotion can be like radio advertising – you need to promote your event at different times of the day to reach different audiences. Yet some people will be on there all the time, and since they’re likely to be quite influential you do not want to annoy them.

What to do? Variations on a theme. In other words, don’t just tweet the same old message. Find all its different flavours, and explore them. Are there different speakers? Promote each one and the message they’ll be delivering.

Share your learnings

As you go, maybe write a blog post about … um, "how to promote an event through social media"!

How do you do it?

If you run and promote events, how do you use social media to promote your event? We’d love to see your comments below.

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